Francis Raven


Library Studies


Dear reader, (pause)

In answer to your questions,

1. I use the library. 2. I use electronic databases. 3. I never consult with a reference librarian. 4. I find out about new resources by googling then

Pregnant, this Internet is too much

disgust on the verge of the sublime

a reaction to an object's quantitative greatness

demonstrating the inadequacy of our senses

reminds us, helpfully, of the importance of "ideas of reason."

That is, puts us in our place.

That is, there is both a moment of attraction and revulsion towards the disgusting object as a result of its aesthetic qualities.

The three art projects collected here are visual interpretations of the library's always almost infinite spirit.



                Francis Raven








Card Catalog (1)






Card Catalog (2)





Card Catalog (3)









Card Catalog (4)

Libraries are buildings filled with books. Or, more famously, Borges: "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings."

Books can burn.

\ Libraries can burn.

A library means not having to own everything you know (a method of offloading memory to the environment).

The world is all that is in my library. Everything that does not fit into my library is not noticed and is therefore not part of my world. However, there are items (ideas, paintings, theories, people, etc. ) that would fit into categories close to those categories which are in my library. Those items create new categories for themselves. These new items expand my library and as a by-product they expand what my definition of the world consists of; they expand what I am willing to see.

The library is outside of us. It is not (entirely) our responsibility.

The first library: = 5,000 years ago (30,000 clay tablets).

Plutarch claims that J. Caesar accidentally burned the library at Alexandria down (in 48 B.C. ) when he set fire to the Egyptian ships that were desperately trying to disrupt his system of maritime communication: the moral: burn knowledge to prevent the disruption of communication.

Number of libraries in America: 9,214.

Number of items in the Library of Congress: 142 million.

The Library of Congress was founded when Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson's personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950 ("there is in fact no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer"). It later burnt (1851). It is on display now. The burnt volumes are represented by plastic spacers.

When you get new books you have to alter the labels (e.g. crossed out Dewey Decimal Codes at the end of the aisle. Thank God they aren't bronze numbers constantly being cast and recast to conform with the will of the latest batch of books).

Books still have size. They are not pure knowledge, only represent it.

If you start with the size you'll have more luck. What is important will change. It's like sifting, refreshing the bundle.

Jacques Derrida: "The archivization produces as much as it records the event. This is also our political experience of the news media."  That is, we have to catalog in order to archive. It is a violent act to shove a book into a genre. It is a bloody foot waiting for a prince.

The Library of Congress receives 22,000 new items each day. It cannot keep everything. It cannot be expected to. (They add about 10,000 items each day).

The history of libraries is filled with ashes.

'Library' is derived from the Latin 'Librariium' meaning bookcase and is further derived from the "the inner bark of trees," probably a derivative of the Proto-Indo European *leub(h)- meaning "to strip, to peel." Thus, what we rely upon to hold it all for us is derived from the peeling of knowledge down to a slender stick. These sticks have burned by now.

We don't have to go to a library to go to the library. It's all online. Or it will be. There will be no reason to go to the library save for the warmth and the Internet. ("In Brantley County, Georgia, library computer usage was up 26 percent in the last quarter" (2008).) 

The archive is moving closer and closer to being within, but there is too much for it to complete the journey into our inner eye. We can offload everything, but not our personal catalogue, which is constantly getting more complicated.

Obsolescence is another form of burning.





Documentation (1)







Documentation (2)






Documentation (3)





Documentation (4)








we keep what we know there

it passes through our hands as we know it

we note what it is

we write down what it is

we put it next to other things that are like it

what it is like expands what it is like

we don't know what it is not like

it expands into what it is not like


we keep what we do not know there

Searching Through (1)

Searching Through (2)

Searching Through (3)

Searching Through (4)





The Great Debate:


"A man's library is a sort of harem."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A library is but the soul's burial-ground. It is the land of shadows."
Henry Ward Beecher




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